By Jeff Halpern | Photos by Tommy Land
HOT SPRINGS — Sidney Townsend made the shot of her life for the Nashville Scrappers.
Townsend sank a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds left to give Nashville (33-2) a 42-41 victory over Farmington in the Class 4A State Championship before a sold-out crowd of 6,500 at Bank OZK Arena on Saturday night.
“I shot the same shot against Pulaski Academy and missed it and got in trouble for it, but tonight, I told Oliva (Dean) that every time you drive, they are helping, and I was going to be open,” said Townsend.
After Carson Dillard missed a free throw with 20.6 seconds left, Nashville got the rebound. Townsend came up the floor, passed the ball to Kyleigh Scoggins, who dished off to Dean, who got the ball back to Townsend at the top of the key. Townsend’s shot found the bottom of the net.
“That last shot, I want to say I drew it up, but we ran our motion offense and our kids said it was what they wanted to do,” said Nashville Coach Paul Dean.
After Farmington called timeout, the Lady Cardinals (34-2) had one last shot, but Townsend intercepted Morgan Brye’s inbounds pass at midcourt setting up a celebration inside the arena.
“We didn’t want to give up the three, but she was a little further out when she caught it and squared herself up,” said Farmington Coach Brad Johnson.
In a game in which neither team led by more than five points, Farmington, which trailed 35-32 at the start of the fourth quarter, tied the game at 35-35 when Jenna Lawrence scored and Dillard made one free throw with 5:55 left. Lawrence rebounded a miss to put the Lady Cardinals up 37-35. Townsend drove to tie the game at 37-37, before Megan Hernandez scored off a feed from Reece Shirey to give the Lady Cardinals at 39-37 lead at the 3:59 mark. Lawrence scored in traffic to make it 41-37 at the 2:13 mark.
After a Farmington timeout, Townsend’s jumper pulled Nashville to 41-39 at the 1:46 mark.
Dillard went up for a shot, but got tied up and the ball went over to Nashville on the alternate possession at the 1:31 mark. Lauren Carver missed and Hernandez got the rebound, but Brye had the ball knocked away and Nashville regained possession.
After Scoggins turned the ball over with 48,7 seconds left, Shirey had the ball knocked away. The officials originally gave Farmington possession, but after a conference, gave the ball to Nashville with 46.7 seconds left.
Carver’s shot was knocked away with 33.8 seconds left, but Shirey was stripped of the ball. Nashville got the ball to Carver, who missed and Lawrence rebounded with 22.2 seconds left. Nashville committed two fouls to get Farmington to the foul line, setting up the final moments.
The Scrappers won thanks to a defense that forced 21 turnovers leading to 15 points. They held Farmington to 17-of-48 shooting, including 3-of-20 on three-pointers.
They overcame an 18-of-57 showing effort, including 4-of-13 on 3-pointers. They also overcame a 45-29 rebounding deficit, in which Farmington had a 13-2 advantage in second-chance points, but stayed even with Farmington on points in the paint at 22-22.
“Their defense was very disruptive, and they forced us to take good care of the ball which we weren’t able to do,” said Johnson.
Dean said, “I felt our like our defense, we didn’t play fast, but we played hard.”
One of the plays that symbolized Nashville’s defensive effort came at the end of the first quarter when Carver had a steal and scored to give the Scrappers a 12-11 lead at the end of the quarter.
“That was a big play,” Dean said. “Lauren got that and it gave us some momentum.”
Johnson said, “I don’t know. The game had a lot of runs and there were a couple times where we took the lead off turnovers, but that was a big play.”
While Farmington recovered to take a 18-12 lead, Nashville went on a 11-2 run over the last 4:12 of the first half to take a 23-20 halftime lead.
Trailing 18-12, Carver scored to get Nashville down to 18-14 at the 3:16 mark when the media timeout was called.
After the time out, Townsend drove to make it 18-16. Fouled by Brye, Townsend missed the free throw, but Carver got the rebound and scored to tie the game at 18-18. Scoggins knocked down a three pointer to make it 21-18.
After Farmington called timeout with 1:32 left, Scoggins drove to the basket to make it 23-18.
After Nashville was called for a 10-second count, J’myra London scored on a feed from Carson Dillard to make it 23-20.
Farmington, which trailed 25-20 early in the third quarter, took a 26-25 lead thanks to consecutive three-pointers by Shirey and Dillard, which helped set the stage for the second half.
Townsend led the Lady Scrappers with 14 points and 4 rebounds while shooting 6-of-12 from the floor. Scoggins was named state tournament MVP with 11 points and 5 rebounds. Carver had 12 points and 7 rebounds.
“This has been a great year and to get here is a fantastic feeling,” Dean said. “xI knew after we had team camps over the summer that we were going to have a great team. I felt like we played great and we're not going to be intimidated.”
Dillard led Farmington with 13 points. Lawrence had 11 points and 17 rebounds. Hernandez had 10 points and 7 rebounds. Brye didn’t score, Burt had 10 rebounds.
“I’m unbelievably proud of this team,” Johnson said. “We battled and fought our guts out. I’m disappointed we lost, but not in the effort.”